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Profit From J.C. Penney's Panic Selling

For investors watching their portfolio evaporate into thin air and shares crossing below $5, the true value can become irrelevant, and survival becomes the focus. If you examine an intraday chart, you will notice that the 10-minute bar when the stock fell to $4.90 was the highest volume of the day. The weak hands were washed out and new buyers stepped up.

Sadly for those who hit the panic sell button and gave up their shares for under $5, they then had to sit and watch the same shares bounce over 25 cents higher before settling to close at $5.08. Needless to say, more than a few people were frustrated by closing. They may have been frustrated by the stock but not all the news from management was frustrating. Online sales climbed 26.3%.

The worst-performing 33 stores will soon close. Over 25% of the stores slated for the glue factory are in Wisconsin. I'm not sure why so many poorly performing stores are located there but the one located near me appears in better shape than the Sears. Granted, that doesn't say much. Bbut during my walk-throughs, I looked for signs of trouble but didn't see any that couldn't be found in Macy's or Kohl's.

Ok, so how can you profit from the panic? There are two short-term strategies that are attractive to me.

The first is selling a covered call, as outlined in my Real Money Pro post. The second is selling a cash secured put option. The February $4 strike put option can be sold for about 20 cents. The shares have to drop over 25% in the next 17 days for the buyer to breakeven. Not only do I not think shares will fall to such a degree (remember, shares don't go straight up or down), I think we can expect the $5 area to provide support.

Another longer-term approach is selling an August $6 covered call for about $1.05, for a net cost of $4 per share. If the shares are at or above $6 on expiration day, the return is 50% in six months and the trade is profitable as long as the shares are at least $4

At the time of publication, Weinstein is long JCP and ZNGA.

Follow @RobertWeinstein

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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